Reliance Industries Chairman, in the company’s annual general meeting, said that “you will see several announcements for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in the coming days.”
By PC Biswal
The recent decision of the central government to repeal Article 370 and bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories—Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh—will have a huge, and positive, impact on peace and development in the valley. This move ensures that the Kashmir Valley, which has been crippling with disturbances for a long time, will be integrated with the rest of India and will share the incredible growth process of the country.
In fact, initial signs of growth prospects can be seen in form of investment announcements by corporate India. So far, dairy major Amul, helmet manufacturer Steelbird and hospitality major Lemon Tree have shown intent to invest in the valley. Reliance Industries Chairman, in the company’s annual general meeting, said that “you will see several announcements for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in the coming days.” In an official statement, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has recommended a 10-point agenda for growth of J&K and Ladakh regions, and also showed interest in partnering with the new administration to organise its first investors’ summit in October 2019.
One major barrier to achieving this vision for J&K and Ladakh could be the prevailing education system. Therefore, reforms in the education sector, especially in the higher education system, will play a significant role in fulfilling the aspirations of people of the valley in achieving peace and development.
> Firstly, no industry could prosper without proper supply of skilled workforce now and in the future. Hence, the valley needs a collaborative effort of both the government and the private sector to set up state-of-the-art educational institutions so that there is no difficulty for industrial enterprises as far as skilled workforce is concerned. Hopefully, some visionary entrepreneurs in the education sector will show interest in setting up campuses in J&K and Ladakh.
> Secondly, the entry of institutes of excellence such as IITs, IIMs and other private higher education institutes (HEIs) would bring in trust amongst the youth in the valley. Currently, the valley is grappling with unfair practices both in teacher and student selections processes, affecting the quality of education. HEIs could recruit and retain quality faculty in this new administrative setting as faculty members could think of their life in the valley in the long run, given its natural beauty and a pollution-free environment.
> Thirdly, both J&K and Ladakh could be the right places for setting up multidisciplinary universities, in line with the proposed New Education Policy 2019. What could be a better place for a multidisciplinary university with more focus on liberal arts and culture than J&K and Ladakh? Hence, the government of India should have a special plan of action for J&K and Ladakh in NEP 2019, especially in setting up state-of-the-art HEIs.
> Fourthly, providing quality education that is also affordable is the best way to engage with the youth in the valley, bring them into the mainstream society, and make them aware about their future in a competitive and interconnected world. At present, it is seen that select students from the Kashmir Valley move to various parts of India to study. One could expect better integration with mainstream India and exchange of ideas, leading to lesser conflicts once there is movement of students from various parts of India to join universities in J&K and Ladakh.
The author is professor, MDI Gurgaon. Views are personal